Critical Miscellanies (Vol. 3 of 3) - Essay 9: The Expansion of England
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Critical Miscellanies (Vol. 3 of 3) - Essay 9: The Expansion of England


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Project Gutenberg's Critical Miscellanies (Vol. 3 of 3), by John Morley This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at Title: Critical Miscellanies (Vol. 3 of 3)  Essay 9: The Expansion of England Author: John Morley Release Date: June 1, 2009 [EBook #29018] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK CRITICAL MISCELLANIES ***
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Essay 9: The Expansion of England
THE EXPANSION OF ENGLAND. Politics and History In relation to the eighteenth century Mr. Green and his History of the English People The secession of the American colonies The mechanical and industrial development of England The Americans and Independence The moral of Mr. Seeley's book Organisation in time of war Sir Henry Parkes on Australia Mr. Archibald Forbes and the Australian colonies Proposals made by the Earl of Dunraven regarding the colonies The formation of an imperial Zollverein or Greater Customs Union Sir Thomas Farrer's Fair Trade v. Free Trade The colonies to be represented in the British Parliament Lord Grey Mr. W. E. Forster's address on our Colonial Empire The Newfoundland Fishery dispute The Germanic Confederation Conclusion
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THE EXPANSION OF ENGLAND. 'There is a vulgar view of politics which sinks them into a mere struggle of interests and parties, and there is a foppish kind of history which aims only at literary display, which produces delightful books hovering between poetry and prose. These perversions, according to me, come from an unnatural divorce between two subjects which belong to one another. Politics are vulgar when they are not liberalised by history, and history fades into mere literature when it loses sight of its relation to practical politics.' These very just remarks are made by Mr. Seeley in a new book which everybody has been reading, and which is an extremely interesting example of that union of politics with history which its author regards as so useful or even indispensable for the successful prosecution of either history or politics. His lectures on the expansion of England contain a suggestive and valuable study of two great movements in our history, one of them the expansion of the English nation and state together by means of colonies; the other, the stranger expansion by which the vast population of India has passed under the rule of Englishmen. Mr. Seeley has in his new volume recovered his singularly attractive style and power of literary form. It underwent some obscuration in the three volumes in which the great transformation of Germany and Prussia during the Napoleonic age was not very happily grouped round a biography of Stein. But here the reader once more finds that ease, lucidity, persuasiveness, and mild gravity that were first shown, as they were probably first acquired, in the serious consideration of religious and ethical subjects. Mr. Seeley's aversion for the florid, rhetorical, and over-decorated fashion of writing history has not carried him to the opposite extreme, but it has made him seek sources of interest, where alone the serious student of human affairs would care to find them, in the magnitude of events, the changes of the fortunes of states, and the derivation of momentous consequences from long chains of antecedent causes. The chances of the time have contributed to make Mr. Seeley's book, in one sense at least, singularly opportune, and have given to a philosophical study the actuality of a political pamphlet. The history of the struggle between England and France for Canada and for India acquires new point at a moment when the old rivalries are again too likely to be awakened in Madagascar, in Oceania, and in more than one region of Africa. The history of the enlargement of the English state, the last survivor of a family of great colonial empires, has a vivid reality at a time when Australasia is calling upon us once more to extend our borders, and take new races under our sway. The discussion of a colonial system ceases to be an abstract debate, and becomes a question of practical emergency, when a colonial convention presses the diplomacy of the mother-country and prompts its foreign policy. Mr. Seeley's book has thus come upon a tide of popular interest. It has helped, and will still further help, to swell a sentiment that was already slowly rising to full flood. History, it would seem, can speak with two voices—even to disciples equally honest, industrious, and competent. Twenty years ago there was a Regius Professor of History at Oxford who took the same view of his study as is expressed in the words at the head of this article. He applied his mind especially to the colonial question, and came to a conclusion directly opposed to that which commends itself to the Regius Professor of History at Cambridge. [1]  Since then a certain reaction has set in, which events will probably show to be superficial, but of which while it lasts Mr. Seeley's speculations will have the benefit. In 1867, when
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the guarantee of the Canadian railway was proposed in Parliament, Mr. Cave, the member for Barnstaple, remarked that instead of giving three millions sterling with a view of separating Canada from the United States, it would be more sensible and more patriotic to give ten millions in order to unite them. Nobody protested against this remark. If it were repeated to-day there would be a shout of disapprobation. On the other hand we shall not have another proposal to guarantee a colonial railway. This temporary fluctuation in opinion is not the first instance of men cherishing the shadow after they have rid themselves of the substance, and clinging with remarkable ardour to a sentiment after they have made quite sure that it shall not inconvenience them in practice. [1] The Empire , by Mr. Goldwin Smith, published in 1863—a masterpiece of brilliant style and finished dialectics. Writing as a historian, Mr. Seeley exhorts us to look at the eighteenth century in a new light and from a new standpoint, which he exhibits with singular skill and power. We could only wish that he had been a little less zealous on behalf of its novelty. His accents are almost querulous as he complains of historical predecessors for their blindness to what in plain truth we have always supposed that they discerned quite as clearly as he discerns it himself. 'Our historians,' he says, 'miss the true point of view in describing the eighteenth century. They make too much of the mere parliamentary wrangle and the agitations about liberty. They do not perceive that in that century the history of England is not in England, but in America and Asia.' 'I shall venture to assert, ' he proceeds in another place, 'that the main struggle of England from the time of Louis XIV. to the time of Napoleon was for the possession of the New World; and it is for want of perceiving this that most of us find that century of English history uninteresting.' The same teasing refrain runs through the book. We might be disposed to traverse Mr. Seeley's assumption that most of us do find the eighteenth century of English history uninteresting. 'In a great part of it,' Mr. Seeley assures us, 'we see nothing but stagnation. The wars seem to lead to nothing, and we do not perceive the working of any new political ideas. That time seems to have created little, so that we can only think of it as prosperous, but not as memorable. Those dim figures, George I. and George II., the long tame administrations of Walpole and Pelham, the commercial war with Spain, the battles of Dettingen and Fontenoy, the foolish prime minister Newcastle, the dull brawls of the Wilkes period, the miserable American war—everywhere alike we seem to remark a want of greatness, a distressing commonness and flatness in men and in affairs.' This would be very sad if it were true, but is it true? A plain man rubs his eyes in amazement at such reproaches. So far from most of us finding the eighteenth century uninteresting, as prosperous rather than memorable, as wanting in greatness, as distressing by the commonness and the flatness of its men and its affairs, we undertake to say that most of us, in the sense of most people who read the English language, know more about, and feel less flatness, and are more interested in the names of the eighteenth century than in those of all other centuries put together. If we are to talk about 'popular histories,' the writer who distances every competitor by an immeasurable distance is Macaulay. Whatever may be said about that illustrious man's style, his conception of history, his theories of human society, it is at least beyond question or denial that his Essays have done more than any other writings of this generation to settle the direction of men's historical interest and curiosity. From Eton and Harrow down to an elementary school in St. Giles's or Bethnal Green, Macaulay's Essays are a text-book. At home and in the colonies, they are on every shelf between Shakespeare and the Bible. And of all these famous compositions, none are so widely read or so well-known as those on Clive, Hastings, Chatham, Frederick, Johnson, with the gallery of vigorous and animated figures that Macaulay grouped round these great historic luminaries. We are not now saying that Macaulay's view of the actors or the events of the eighteenth century is sound, comprehensive, philosophical, or in any other way meritorious; we are only examining the truth of Mr. Seeley's assumption that the century which the most popular writer of the day has treated in his most glowing, vivid, picturesque, and varied style, is regarded by the majority of us as destitute of interest, as containing neither memorable men nor memorable affairs, and as overspread with an ignoble pall of all that is flat, stagnant, and common. Nor is there any better foundation for Mr. Seeley's somewhat peremptory assertion that previous writers all miss what he considers the true point in our history during the eighteenth century. It is simply contrary to fact to assert that 'they do not perceive that in that century the history of England is not in England, but in America and Asia.' Mr. Green, for instance, was not strong in his grasp of the eighteenth century, and that period is in many respects an extremely unsatisfactory part of his work. Yet if we turn to his History of the English People , this is what we find at the very outset of the section that deals with modern England:— The Seven Years' War is in fact a turning point in our national history, as it is a turning point in the history of the world.... From the close of the Seven Years' War it mattered little whether England counted for less or more with the nations around her. She was no longer a mere European power; she was no longer a rival of Germany or France. Her future action lay in a wider sphere than that of Europe. Mistress of Northern America, the future mistress of India, claiming as her own the empire of the seas, Britain suddenly towered high above nations whose position in a single continent doomed them to comparative insignificance in the after-history of the world. It is this that gives William Pitt so unique a position among our statesmen. His figure in fact stands at the opening of a new epoch in English history—in the history not of England only, but of the English race. However dimly and imperfectly, he alone among his fellows saw that the struggle of the Seven Years' War was a struggle of a wholly different order from the struggles that had gone before it. He felt that the stake he was playing for was something vaster than Britain's standing among the powers of Europe. Even while he backed Frederick in Germany, his eye was not on the Weser, but on the Hudson and the St. Lawrence. 'If I send an army to Germany,' he replied in memorable words to his assailants, 'it is because in Germany I can conquer America!' This must be pronounced to be, at any rate, a very near approach to that perception which Mr. Seeley denies to his predecessors, of the truth that in the eighteenth century the expansion of England was the important side of her destinies at that epoch.
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Then there is Carlyle. Carlyle professed to think ill enough of the eighteenth century—poor bankrupt century, and so forth,—but so little did he find it common, flat, or uninteresting, that he could never tear himself away from it. Can it be pretended that he, too, 'missed the true point of view'? Every reader of the History of Frederick  remembers the Jenkins's-Ear-Question, and how 'half the World lay hidden in embryo under it. Colonial-Empire, whose is it to be? Shall half the world be England's, for industrial purposes; which is innocent, laudable, conformable to the Multiplication Table, at least, and other plain laws? Shall there be a Yankee Nation, shall there not be; shall the New World be of Spanish type, shall it be of English? Issues which we may call immense.' This, the possession of the new world, was 'England's one Cause of War during the century we are now upon (Bk. xii. ch. xii.) It is 'the soul of all these Controversies and the one meaning they have' (xvi. xiv.) When the war was over, and the peace made at Hubertsburgh, Carlyle apprehended as clearly as words can express, what the issue of it was for England and the English race. England, he says, is to have America and the dominion of the seas,—considerable facts both,—'and in the rear of these, the new Country is to get into such merchandisings, colonisings, foreign settlings, gold nuggetings, as lay beyond the drunkenest dreams of Jenkins (supposing Jenkins addicted to liquor)—and in fact to enter on a universal uproar of Machineries, Eldorados, "Unexampled Prosperities," which make a great noise for themselves in the days now come,' with much more to the same effect (xx. xiii.) Allowance made for the dialect, we do not see how the pith and root of the matter, the connection between the transactions of the eighteenth century and the industrial and colonial expansion that followed them, could be more firmly or more accurately seized. It would be unreasonable to expect these and other writers to isolate the phenomena of national expansion, as Mr. Seeley has been free to do, to the exclusion of other groups of highly important facts in the movements of the time. They were writing history, not monograph. Nor is it certain that Mr. Seeley has escaped the danger to which writers of monographs are exposed. In isolating one set of social facts, the student is naturally liable to make too much of them, in proportion to other facts. Let us agree, for argument's sake, that the expansion of England is the most important of the threads that it is the historian's business to disengage from the rest of the great strand of our history in the eighteenth century. That is no reason why we should ignore the importance of the constitutional struggle between George the Third and the Whigs, from his accession to the throne in 1760 down to the accession of the younger Pitt to power in 1784. Mr. Seeley will not allow his pupils to waste a glance upon 'the dull brawls of the Wilkes period.' Yet the author of the Thoughts on the Present Discontents thought it worth while to devote all the force of his powerful genius to the exploration of the causes of these dull brawls, and perceived under their surface great issues at stake for good government and popular freedom. Mr. Seeley does justice to the importance of the secession of the American colonies. He rightly calls it a stupendous event, perhaps in itself greater than the French Revolution, which so soon followed it. He only, however, discerns one side of its momentous influence, the rise of a new state, and he has not a word to say as to its momentous consequences to the internal politics of the old state from which the colonies had cut themselves off. Yet some of the acutest and greatest Englishmen then living, from Richard Price up to Burke and Fox, believed that it was our battle at home that our kinsfolk were fighting across the Atlantic Ocean, and that the defeat and subjection of the colonists would have proved fatal in the end to the liberties of England herself. Surely the preservation of parliamentary freedom was as important as the curtailment of British dominion, and only less important than the rise of the new American state. Even for a monograph, Mr. Seeley puts his theme in too exclusive a frame; and even from the point of his own profession that he seeks to discover 'the laws by which states rise, expand, and prosper or fall in this world,' his survey is not sufficiently comprehensive, and his setting is too straitened. Another criticism may be made upon the author's peculiar delimitation of his subject. We will accept Mr. Seeley's definition of history as having to do with the state, with the growth and the changes of a certain corporate society, acting through certain functionaries and certain assemblies. If the expansion of England was important, not less important were other changes vitally affecting the internal fortunes of the land that was destined to undergo this process. Expansion only acquired its significance in consequence of what happened in England itself. It is the growth of population at home, as a result of our vast extension of manufactures, that makes our colonies both possible and important. There would be nothing capricious or perverse in treating the expansion of England over the seas as strictly secondary to the expansion of England within her own shores, and to all the causes of it in the material resources and the energy and ingenuity of her sons at home. Supposing that a historian were to choose to fix on the mechanical and industrial development of England as the true point of view, we are not sure that as good a case might not be made out for the inventions of Arkwright, Hargreaves, and Crompton as for the acquisition of the colonies; for Brindley and Watt as for Clive and Hastings. Enormous territory is only one of the acquisitions or instruments of England, and we know no reason why that particular element of growth should be singled out as overtopping the other elements that made it so important as it is. It is not the mere multiplication of a race, nor its diffusion over the habitable globe that sets its deepest mark on the history of a state, but rather those changes in idea, disposition, faculty, and, above all, in institution, which settle what manner of race it shall be that does in this way replenish the earth. From that point of view, after all, as Tocqueville said, the greatest theatre of human affairs is not at Sydney, it is not even at Washington, it is still in our old world of Europe. That the secession of the American colonies was a stupendous crisis, Mr. Seeley recognises, but his dislike of the idea that their example may be followed by other colonies seems to show that he does not agree with many of us as to the real significance of that great event. He admits, no doubt, that the American Union exerts a strong influence upon us by 'the strange career it runs and the novel experiments it tries.' These novel experiments in government, institutions, and social development, are the most valuable results, as many think, of the American state, and they are the results of its independence. Yet independence is what Mr. Seeley dreads for our present colonies, both for their own sake and ours. If any one thinks that America would be ver much what she now is, if she had lost her battle a hundred ears a o and had continued to be still
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attached to the English crown, though by a very slender link, he must be very blind to what has gone on in Australia. [2] The history of emigration in Canada, of transportation in New South Wales, and of the disastrous denationalisation of the land in Victoria, are useful illustrations of the difference between the experiments of a centralised compared with a decentralised system of government. Neither Australia nor Canada approached the United States in vigour, originality, and spirit, until, like the United States, they were left free to work out their own problems in their own way. It is not the republican form of government that has made all the difference, though that has had many most considerable effects. Independence not only put Americans on their mettle, but it left them with fresh views, with a temper of unbounded adaptability, with an infinite readiness to try experiments, and free room to indulge it as largely as ever they pleased. As Mr. Seeley says, the American Union 'is beyond question the state in which free will is most active and alive in every individual.' He says this, and a few pages further on he agrees that 'there has never been in any community so much happiness, or happiness of a kind so little demoralising, as in the United States.' But he proceeds to deny, not only that the causes of this happiness are political, but that it is in any great degree the consequence of secession. He seems to assume that if we accept the first proposition, the second follows. That is not the case. Secession was a political event, but it was secession that left unchecked scope and, more than that, gave a stimulus and an impulse such as nothing else could have given, to the active play and operation of all the non-political forces which Mr. Seeley describes, and which exist in much the same degree in the colonies that still remain to us. It is the value that we set on alacrity and freshness of mind that makes us distrust any project that interferes with the unfettered play and continual liveliness of what Mr. Seeley calls free will in these new communities, and makes us extremely suspicious of that 'clear and reasoned system,' whatever it may be, to which Mr. Seeley implores us all to turn our attention. [2] The story has been recently told over again in a little volume by Mr. C. J. Rowe, entitled Bonds of Disunion, or English Misrule in the Colonies  (Longmans, 1883). The title is somewhat whimsical, but the book is a very forcible and suggestive contribution to the discussion raised by Mr. Seeley.
II. We shall now proceed to inquire practically, in a little detail, and in plain English, what 'clear and reasoned system' is possible. It is not profitable to tell us that the greatest of all the immense difficulties in the way of a solution of the problem of the union of Greater Britain into a Federation is a difficulty that we make ourselves: 'is the false preconception which we bring to the question, that the problem is insoluble, that no such thing ever was done or ever will be done.' On the contrary, those who are incurably sceptical of federation, owe their scepticism not to a preconception at all, but to a reasoned examination of actual schemes that have been proposed, and of actual obstacles that irresistible circumstances interpose. It is when we consider the real life, the material pursuits, the solid interests, the separate frontiers and frontier-policies of the colonies, that we perceive how deeply the notions of Mr. Seeley are tainted with vagueness and dreaminess. The moral of Mr. Seeley's book is in substance this, that if we allow 'ourselves to be moved sensibly nearer in our thoughts and feelings to the colonies, and accustom ourselves to think of emigrants as not in any way lost to England by settling in the colonies, the result might be, first, that emigration on a vast scale might become our remedy for pauperism; and, secondly, that some organisation might gradually be arrived at which might make the whole force of the empire available in time of war' (p. 298). Regarded as a contribution, then, to that practical statesmanship which is the other side of historical study, Mr. Seeley's book contains two suggestions: emigration on a vast scale and a changed organisation. On the first not many words will be necessary. They come to this, that unless the emigration on a vast scale is voluntary, all experience shows that it will fail inevitably, absolutely, and disastrously: and next, that if it is voluntary, it will never on a vast scale, though it may in rare individual instances, set in a given direction by mere movement of our thoughts and feelings about the flag or the empire. It is not sentiment but material advantages that settle the currents of emigration. Within a certain number of years 4,500,000 of British emigrants have gone to the United States, and only 2,500,000 to the whole of the British possessions. Last year 179,000 went to the United States, and only 43,000 to Canada. The chairman of the Hudson's Bay Company the other day plainly admitted to his shareholders that 'as long as the United States possessed a prairie country and Canada did not, the former undoubtedly offered greater advantages for the poorer class of emigrants.' He would not force emigrants to go to any particular country, 'but everything else being equal , he would exercise what moral influence he could to induce emigrants to go to our own possessions' (Report in Times , November 23, 1883). The first step, therefore, is to secure that everything else shall be equal. When soil, climate, facility of acquisition, proximity to English ports, are all equalised, it will be quite time enough to hope for a change in the currents of emigration, and when that time comes the change will be wrought not by emotions of patriotic sentiment, but by calculations of prudence. No true patriot can honestly wish that it should be otherwise, for patriotism is regard for the wellbeing of the people of a country as well as affection for its flag. Let us now turn to the more important question of some organisation by which the whole force of the empire might be made available in time of war. Our contention is not that the whole force could not, might not, or ought not to be made available. So far as these issues go, the answer would depend upon the nature and the stress of the contingencies which made resort to the whole force of the empire necessary or desirable. All that we argue for is that the result will never be reached by a standing and permanent organisation. Mr.
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Seeley does not himself attempt to work out any clear and reasoned system, nor was it his business to do so. Still it is our business to do what we can to take the measure of the idea which his attractive style and literary authority have again thrown into circulation in enthusiastic and unreflecting minds. Many other writers have tried to put this idea into real shape, and when we come to ask from them for further and better particulars the difficulties that come into view are insuperable. We shall examine some of these projects, and we may as well begin with the most recent. Sir Henry Parkes, in an article just published, after the usual protestations of the sense of slight in the breasts of our kinsfolk, of the vehement desire for a closer union with the mother country, and in favour of a more definite incorporation of Australia in the realm, proceeds to set forth what we suppose to be the best practical contributions that he can think of towards promoting the given end. The 'changes in the imperial connection' which the ex-premier for New South Wales suggests are these:—1. The Australian group of colonies should be confederated, and designated in future the British States of Australia, or the British Australian State. 2. A representative council of Australia should sit in London to transact all the business between the Federation and the Imperial Government. 3. In treaties with foreign nations Australia must be consulted, so far as Australian interests may be affected, through her representative council. Sir Henry Parkes, we may remark, gives no instance of a treaty with a foreign nation in which Australian interests have been injured or overlooked. 4. Englishmen in Australia must be on an equal footing with Englishmen within the United Kingdom as recipients of marks of the royal favour; especially they should be made peers. 5. The functions of governor should be limited as much as possible to those which are discharged by the Sovereign in the present working of the Constitution, and to State ceremonies. These are the suggestions which Sir Henry Parkes throws out 'without reserve or hesitation,' as pointing to the direction in which 'well-considered changes' should take place. The familiar plan for solving the problem by the representation of the colonies in the Imperial Parliament he peremptorily repudiates. 'That,' he says, 'would be abortive from the first, and end in creating new jealousies and discontents.' What it all comes to, then, is that the sentiment of union between Englishmen here and Englishmen at the Antipodes is to be strengthened, first, by making more Knights of St. Michael and St. George; second, by a liberal creation of Victorian, Tasmanian, and New South Welsh peerages; third, by reducing the officer who represents the political link between us to a position of mere decorative nullity; and fourth, by bringing half a dozen or a score or fifty honest gentlemen many thousands of miles away from their own affairs, in order to transact business which is despatched without complaint or hindrance in a tolerably short interview once a week, or once a month, or once a quarter, between the Secretary of State and the Agent-General. If that is all, we can only say that seldom has so puny a mouse come forth from so imposing a mountain. 'The English people,' says Sir Henry Parkes, 'in Europe, in America, in Africa, in Asia, in Australasia, are surely destined for a mission beyond the work which has consumed the energies of nations throughout the buried centuries. If they hold together in the generations before us in one world-embracing empire, maintaining and propagating the principles of justice, freedom and peace, what blessings might arise from their united power to beautify and invigorate the world.' This is the eloquent expression of a lofty and generous aspiration which every good Englishman shares, and to which he will in his heart fervently respond. But the Australian statesman cannot seriously think that the maintenance and propagation of justice, freedom and peace, the beautifying and invigorating of the world, or any of the other blessings of united power, depend on the four or five devices, all of them trivial, and some of them contemptible, which figure in his project. Of all ways of gratifying a democratic community that we have ever heard of, the institution of hereditary rank seems the most singular,—supported, as we presume that rank would be, by primogeniture and landed settlements. As for the consultative council, which is an old suggestion of Lord Grey's, what is the answer to the following dilemma? If the Crown is to act on the advice of the agents then the imperial politics of any one colony must either be regulated by a vote of the majority of the members of the council—however unpalatable the decision arrived at may be to the colony affected—or else the Crown will be enabled to exercise its own discretion, and so to arrogate to itself the right to direct colonial policy (Rowe's Bonds of Disunion , 356). The simpleton in the jestbooks is made to talk of a bridge dividing the two banks of a stream. Sir Henry Parkes's plan of union would soon prove a dividing bridge in good earnest. Sir Henry Parkes does not try to conceal from us, he rather presses upon us by way of warning, that separation from England is an event which, 'whatever surface-loyalists may say to the contrary, is unquestionably not out of the range of possibilities within the next generation.' 'There are persons in Australia, and in most of the Australian legislatures, who avowedly or tacitly favour the idea of separation.' 'In regard to the large mass of the English people in Australia,' he adds on another page, 'there can be no doubt of their genuine loyalty to the present state, and their affectionate admiration for the present illustrious occupant of the Throne. But this loyalty is nourished at a great distance, and by tens of thousands daily increasing, who have never known any land but the one dear land where they dwell. It is the growth of a semi-tropical soil, alike tender and luxuriant, and a slight thing may bruise, even snap asunder, its young tendrils.' 'The successful in adventure and enterprise,' he says with just prescience, 'will want other rewards than the mere accumulation of wealth,' and other rewards, may we add, than knighthoods and sham peerages. 'The awakening ambitions of the gifted and heroic will need fitting spheres for their honourable gratification,' and such spheres, we may be very sure, will not be found in a third-rate little consultative council, planted in a back-room in Westminster, waiting for the commands of the Secretary of State. In short, a suspicion dawns upon one's mind that this sense of coldness, this vague craving for closer bonds, this crying for a union, on the part of some colonists, is, in truth, a sign of restless malaise , which means, if it were probed to the bottom, not a desire for union at all, but a sense of fitness for independence. There are great and growing difficulties in the matter of foreign and inter-colonial relations. But these will not
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be solved by a council which may be at variance with the government and majority in the colony. They are much better solved, as they arise, by a conference with the Agent for the Colonies, or, as has been done in the case of Canada, by allowing the government of the colony to take a part in the negotiations, and to settle its own terms. Fisheries, copyright, and even customs' duties, are instances in point. This is a process which will have to be carried further. Each large colony will have relations to foreign countries more and more distant from those of the mother country, and must be allowed to deal with those relations itself. How this is to be done will be a problem in each case. It will furnish a new chapter of international law. But it is a chapter of law which will grow pro re natâ . Its growth will not be helped or forwarded by any a priori system. Any such system would be attended with all the evils of defective foresight, and would both fetter and irritate.
III. To test the strain that Australian attachment to the imperial connection would bear, we have a right to imagine the contingency of Great Britain being involved in a war with a foreign Power of the first class. Leaving Sir Henry Parkes, we find another authority to enlighten us upon the consequences in such a case. Mr. Archibald Forbes is a keen observer, not addicted to abstract speculation, but with a military eye for facts and forces as they actually are, without reference to sentiments or ideals to which anybody else may wish to adjust them. Mr. Forbes has traced out some of the effects upon Australian interests of an armed conflict between the mother country and a powerful adversary. Upon the Australian colonies, he says emphatically, such a conflict would certainly bring wide-ranging and terrible mischiefs. We had a glimpse of what would happen at once, in the organised haste with which Russia prepared to send to sea swift cruisers equipped in America, when trouble with England seemed imminent in 1878. We have a vast fleet, no doubt, but not vast enough both to picquet our own coast-line with war-ships against raids on unprotected coast-towns, and besides that to cover the great outlying flanks of the Empire. These hostile cruisers would haunt Australasian waters (coaling in the neutral ports about the Eastern Archipelago), and there would be scares, risks, uncertainties, that would derange trade, chill enterprise, and frighten banks. Another consideration, not mentioned by Mr. Forbes, may be added. We now do the carrying trade of Australasia to the great benefit of English shipowners (See Economist , August 27, 1881). If the English flag were in danger from foreign cruisers, Australia would cease to employ our ships, and might possibly find immunity in separation and in establishing a neutral flag of her own. Other definite evils would follow war. The Australasian colonist lives from hand to mouth, carries on his trade with borrowed money, and pays his way by the prompt disposal of his produce. Hence it is that the smallest frown of tight money sends a swift shock, vibrating and thrilling, all through the Australasian communities. War would at once hamper their transactions. It would bring enhanced freights and higher rates of insurance to cover war risks. This direct dislocation of commerce would be attended in time by default of payment of interest on the colonial debt, public, semi-public, and private. As the vast mass of this debt is held in England, the default of the Englishmen in Australia would injure and irritate Englishmen at home, and the result would be severe tension. The colonial debtor would be all the more offended, from his consciousness that 'the pinch which had made him a defaulter would have a purely gratuitous character so far as he was concerned.' 'I, at least,' says Mr. Forbes, in concluding his little forecast, 'have the implicit conviction that if England should ever be engaged in a severe struggle with a Power of strength and means, in what condition soever that struggle might leave her, one of its outcomes would be to detach from her the Australian colonies' ( Nineteenth Century , for October 1883). In other words, one of the most certain results of pursuing the spirited foreign policy in Europe, which is so dear to the Imperialist or Bombastic school, would be to bring about that disintegration of the Empire which the same school regard as the crown of national disaster. It would be a happy day for the Peace Society that should give the colonies a veto on imperial war. It is true that during the Indian Mutiny New South Wales offered to send away the battery for which it paid, but when the despatch actually took place it was furious. Australia has militiamen, but who supposes that they can be spared in any numbers worth considering for long campaigns, and this further loss and dislocation added to those which have been enumerated by Mr. Forbes? Supposing, for the sake of argument, that Australia were represented in the body that decided on war, though we may notice that war is often entered upon even in our own virtuous days without preliminary consent from Parliament, nobody believes that the presence of Australian representatives in the imperial assembly that voted the funds would reconcile their constituents at the other side of the globe to paying money for a war, say, for the defence of Afghanistan against Russia, or for the defence of Belgian neutrality. The Australian, having as much as he can do to carry on from hand to mouth, would speedily repent himself of that close and filial union with the mother country, which he is now supposed so ardently to desire, when he found his personal resources crippled for the sake of European guarantees or Indian frontiers. We had a rather interesting test only the other day of the cheerful open-handedness that English statesmen expect to find in colonial contributions for imperial purposes. We sent an expedition to Egypt, having among its objects the security of the Suez Canal. The Canal is part of the highway to India, so (shabbily enough, as some think) we compelled India to pay a quota towards the cost of the expedition. But to nobody is the Canal more useful than to our countrymen in Australia. It has extended the market for their exports and given fresh scope for their trade. Yet from them nobody dreams of asking a farthing. Nor do the pictures drawn by Mr. Forbes and others encourage the hope that any Ministry in any one
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of the seven Australian Governments is likely to propose self-denying ordinances that take the shape of taxes for imperial objects. 'He is a hard-headed man, the Australian,' says Mr. Forbes, 'and has a keen regard for his own interest, with which in the details of his business life, his unquestionable attachment to his not over-affectionate mother, is not permitted materially to interfere. Where his pocket is concerned he displays for her no special favouritism. For her, in no commercial sense, is there any "most favoured nation" clause in his code. He taxes alike imports from Britain and from Batavia. His wool goes to England because London is the wool market of the world, not because England is England. He transacts his import commerce mainly with England because it is there where the proceeds of the sale of his wool provide him with financial facilities. But he has no sentimental predilection for the London market.'
IV. Proposals of a more original kind than those of Sir Henry Parkes have been made by the Earl of Dunraven, though they are hardly more successful in standing cross-examination. Lord Dunraven has seen, a great deal of the world, and has both courage and freshness of mind. He scolds Liberals for attaching too little importance to colonies, and not perceiving that our national existence is bound up with our existence as an empire. We are dependent in an increasing degree on foreign countries for our supply of food, and therefore we might starve in time of war unless we had an efficient fleet; but fleets, to be efficient, must be able to keep the sea for any length of time, and they can only do this by means of the accommodation afforded by our various dependencies and colonies dotted over the surface of the globe. This is a very good argument so far as it goes, but of course it would be met, say in South Africa, by keeping Table Mount and Simon's Bay, and letting the rest go. It might, too, as we all know, be met in another way, namely, by the enforcement at sea of the principles of warfare on land, and the abandonment of the right of seizure of the property of private individuals on the ocean. Besides that, says Lord Dunraven, the colonies are by far our best customers, and our only chance of increasing or maintaining our trade lies in 'the development of the colonies.' What development means he does not very clearly explain. Subsidised emigration and all such devices he dismisses as futile. Some means should be devised, he says, whereby the independent colonies should have a voice in the management of matters affecting the empire: what those means might exactly be he does not even hint. The mother country and the colonies might be drawn closer together by the abandonment of free trade and the formation of an imperial Zollverein or Greater British Customs Union. In this way capital would move more freely within the empire from one portion to another—as if capital which has gone from Great Britain to the Australian group of colonies to such a tune that the public indebtedness there is three times the amount per head in the mother country (to say nothing of the vast sums embarked in private enterprise, bringing up the aggregate debt to a million and a quarter), did not move quite freely enough as it is. Supply would at last have an opportunity of accommodating itself to demand without let or hindrance over a large portion of the earth's surface—as if more were necessary for this than the simple reduction of their tariffs, which is within the power of the protectionist colonies without federation, confederation, or any other device whatever. As it is, by the way, the colonies take nearly four times as much per head per annum of our manufactures as is taken by the United States (32s. against 8s. 4d.) It is not necessary for me here, even if there were space, to state the arguments against the possibility of a perfect Customs Union embracing the whole British Empire. They have been recently set forth by the masterly hand of Sir Thomas Farrer ( Fair Trade  v. Free Trade , published by the Cobden Club, pp. 38-60). The objections to such a solution rest on the fact that it involves the same fiscal system in countries differing widely as the poles in climate, in government, in habits, and in political opinions. 'It would prevent any change in taxation in one of the countries constituting the British Empire, unless the same change were made in all.' To require Canada and Australia to adopt our system of external taxation, to model their own internal taxation accordingly, and to continue to insist on that requirement, whatever their own change either of opinion or condition might be, would be simply destructive of local self-government. 'Free Trade is of extreme importance, but Freedom is more important still.'
V. Among the devices for bringing the mother country and the great colonies into closer contact, we do not at present hear much of the old plan for giving seats to colonial representatives in the British Parliament. It was discussed in old days by men of great authority. Burke had no faith in it, while Adam Smith argued in its favour. Twenty years before the beginning of the final struggle the plan was rejected by Franklin. In 1831 Joseph Hume proposed that India should have four members, the Crown colonies eight, the West Indies three, and the Channel Islands one. Mr. Seeley's book may for a little time revive vague notions of the same specific. Sir Edward Creasy, also by the way a professor of history, openly advocated it, but with the truly
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remarkable reservation that 'the colonies should be admitted to shares in the Imperial Parliament on the understanding that they contributed nothing at all to the imperial revenue by taxation.' [3] That is, they are to vote our money, but we are not to vote theirs. As Cobden saw, this is a flaw that is fatal to the scheme. 'What is the reason,' he asked, 'that no statesman has ever dreamt of proposing that the colonies should sit with the mother country in a common legislature? It was not because of the space between them, for nowadays travelling was almost as quick as thought; but because the colonies, not paying imperial taxation, and not being liable for our debt, could not be allowed with safety to us, or with propriety to themselves, to legislate on matters of taxation in which they were not themselves concerned.' He also dwelt on the mischief inseparable from the presence of a sectional and isolated interest in Parliament ( Speeches , i. 568, 569). Lord Grey points out another difficulty. The colonial members, he says, would necessarily enroll themselves in the ranks of one or other of our parliamentary parties. 'If they adhered to the Opposition, it would be impossible for them to hold confidential intercourse with the Government; and if they supported the Ministers of the day, the defeat of the administration would render their relations with a new one still more difficult' ( Nineteenth Century , June 1879). In short, since the concession of independent legislatures to all the most important colonies, the idea of summoning representatives to the Imperial Parliament is, indeed, as one high colonial authority has declared it to be, a romantic dream. If the legislature of Victoria is left to settle the local affairs of Victoria, the legislature of the United Kingdom must be left to settle our local affairs. Therefore the colonial members could only be invited to take a part on certain occasions in reference to certain imperial matters. But this would mean that we should no longer have one Parliament but two, or, in other words, we should have a British Parliament and a Federal Council. [3] Constitutions of the Britannic Empire (1872), p. 43. Another consideration of the highest moment ought not to be overlooked. In view of our increasing population, social complexities, and industrial and commercial engagements of all kinds, time is of vital importance for the purposes of domestic legislation and internal improvements. Is the time and brainpower of our legislators, and of those of our colonies too, to be diverted perpetually from their own special concerns and the improvement of their own people, to the more showy but less fruitful task of keeping together and managing an artificial Empire?
VI. Eight or nine years ago Mr. Forster delivered an important address at Edinburgh on our Colonial Empire. It was a weighty attempt to give the same impulse to people's minds from the political point of view as Mr. Seeley tries to give from the historical. Mr. Forster did not think that 'the admission of colonial representatives into our Parliament could be a permanent form of association,' though he added that it might possibly be useful in the temporary transition from the dependent to the associated relation. In what way it would be useful he did not more particularly explain. The ultimate solution he finds in some kind of federation. The general conditions of union, in order that our empire should continue, he defines as threefold. 'The different self-governing communities must agree in maintaining allegiance to one monarch—in maintaining a common nationality, so that each subject may find that he has the political rights and privileges of other subjects wheresoever he may go in the realm; [4] and, lastly, must agree not only in maintaining a mutual alliance in all relations with foreign powers, but in apportioning among themselves the obligations imposed by such alliance.' [5] It is, as everybody knows, at the last of the three points that the pinch is found. The threatened conflict between the Imperial and the Irish parliaments on the Regency in 1788, 1789 warns us that difficulties might arise on the first head, and it may be well to remember under the second head that the son of a marriage between a man and his sister-in-law has not at present the same civil right in different parts of the realm. But let this pass. The true question turns upon the apportionment of the obligations incurred by states entering a federal union on equal terms. What is to be the machinery of this future association? Mr. Forster, like Mr. Seeley, and perhaps with equally good right, leaves time to find the answer, contenting himself with the homely assurance that 'when the time comes it will be found that where there's a will there's a way.' Our position is that the will depends upon the way, and that the more any possible way of federation is considered, the less likely is there to be the will. [4] The refusal to allow the informers in the Phoenix Park trials to land in Australia is worth remembering under this head. [5] Our Colonial Empire. By the Right Hon. W. E. Forster, M.P. Edmonston and Douglas. 1875. It is not in the mere machinery of federation that insurmountable difficulties arise, but in satisfying ourselves that the national sentiment would supply steam enough to work the machinery. Of course we should at once be brought face to face with that which is, in Mr. Forster's judgment, one of the strongest arguments against giving responsible government to Ireland, the necessity for a written constitution. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council were engaged only the other day in hearing a dispute on appeal (Hodge v. the Queen), turning on the respective powers of the legislature of Ontario and the Parliament of the Dominion. The instrument to be interpreted was the British North America Act, but who will draft us a bill that shall settle the respective powers of the Dominion legislature, the British legislature, and the Universal Greater British legislature?
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It would be interesting to learn what place in the great Staatenbund or Bundes-staat would be given to possessions of the class of the West Indies, Mauritius, the West Coast, and such propugnacula  of the Empire as Gibraltar, Malta, Aden, or Hong-Kong. What have we to offer Australia in return for joining us in a share of such obligations as all these entail? Are her taxpayers anxious to contribute to their cost? Have her politicians either leisure or special competency for aiding in their administration? India, we must assume, would come within the province and jurisdiction of the Federation. It would hardly be either an advantage or a pleasure to the people of a young country, with all their busy tasks hot on their hands, to be interrupted by the duty of helping by men or cash to put down an Indian Mutiny, and even in quiet times to see their politicians attending to India instead of minding their own very sufficiently exacting business. The Federal Council would be, we may suppose, deliberative and executive, but we have not been told whence its executive would be taken. If from its own members, then London (if that is to be the seat of the Federal Government) would see not only two legislatures, but two cabinets, because it would certainly happen that the Federal Council would constantly give its confidence to men sent to it from the colonies, and not having seats in the British Parliament. In that case the mother of parliaments would sink into the condition of a state legislature, though the contributions of Great Britain would certainly be many times larger than those of all the colonies put together. If, on the contrary view, Great Britain were to take the lead in the Council, to shape its policy, and to furnish its ministers, can anybody doubt that the same resentment and sense of grievance which was in old times directed against the centralisation of the Colonial Office, would instantly revive against the centralisation of the new Council? Nobody has explained what is to be the sanction of any decree, levy, or ordinance of the Federal Council; in other words, how it would deal with any member of the Confederacy who should refuse to provide money or perform any other act prescribed by the common authority of the Bund. If anybody supposes that England, for instance, would send a fleet to Canada to collect ship-money in the name of the Federal Council, it would be just as easy to imagine her sending a fleet in her own name. Nothing can be more absurd than any supposition of that kind, except the counter-supposition that no confederated state would ever fail to fall cheerfully in with the requirements of the rest of them. Mr. Forster has an earnest faith that the union would work well, but that does not prevent him from inserting a possible proviso or understanding that 'any member of the Federation, either the mother country or any of its children, should have an acknowledged right to withdraw from the mutual alliance on giving reasonable notice.' No doubt such a proviso would be essential, but if a similar one had been accepted in America after the election of President Lincoln, the American Union would have lasted exactly eighty years, and no more. The catastrophe was prevented by the very effective sanction which the Federalists proved themselves to possess in reserve. What is the common bond that is to bring the various colonies into a federal union? It is certain that it will have to be a bond of political and national interest, and not of sentiment merely, though the sentiment may serve by way of decoration. We all know how extremely difficult it was to bring the provinces of Canada to form themselves into the Dominion. It is within immediate memory that in South Africa, in spite of the most diligent efforts of ministers and of parliament, the interests of the Cape, of Natal, of Griqualand, and the two Dutch republics were found to be so disparate that the scheme of confederation fell hopelessly to pieces. In Australia the recent conference at Sydney is supposed to have given a little impulse towards confederation, but the best informed persons on the spot have no belief that anything practical can come of it for a very long time to come, if ever,—so divergent are both the various interests and men's views of their interests. Three years ago a conference of all the Australian colonies was held to consider the adoption of a common fiscal policy. The delegates of New South Wales, South Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, and Western Australia voted in favour of a resolution which recommended the appointment of a joint commission to construct a common tariff, but Victoria voted in a minority of one, and the project was therefore abandoned. If there is this difficulty in bringing the colonies of a given region into union, we may guess how enormous would be the difficulty of framing a scheme of union that should interest and attract regions penitus toto divisos orbe . Another line of consideration brings us still more directly to the same probability of a speedy deadlock. In Mr. Forster's ideal federation there must, he says, be one principle of action throughout the empire concerning the treatment of uncivilised or half civilised races. With the motive of this humane reservation all good Englishmen, wherever they live, will ardently sympathise. But how would a Federal Union have any more power than Lord Kimberley had to prevent a Cape parliament, for instance, from passing a Vagrant Act? That Act contained, as Lord Kimberley confessed, some startling clauses, and its object was in fact to place blacks under the necessity of working for whites at low wages. He was obliged to say that he had no power to alter it, and we may be quite sure that if the Executive of the Greater British Union had been in existence, and had tried to alter the Act, that would have been the signal for South Africa to walk out of the union. We may look at such contingencies in another way. Great Britain, according to a statement made by Mr. Gladstone in the last session of parliament, has spent more than twelve millions sterling on frontier wars in South Africa during the eighty years that we have been unfortunate enough to have that territory on our hands. The conduct of the colonists to the natives has been the main cause of these wars, and yet it is stated that they themselves have never contributed more than £10,000 a year towards military expenditure on their account. Is it possible to suppose that the Canadian lumberman and the Australian sheep-farmer will cheerfully become contributors to a Greater British fund for keeping Basutos, Pondos, Zulus quiet to please the honourable gentlemen from South Africa, especially as two-thirds of the constituents of these honourable gentlemen would be not Englishmen but Dutchmen? Yet if the stoppage of supplies of this kind would be one of the first results of the transformation of the mother country into the stepmother Union, what motive would South Africa have for entering it? On the other hand, is there any reason to suppose that South Africa would contribute towards the maintenance of cruisers to keep French convicts and others out of the Pacific, or towards expeditions to enable the Queensland planters to get cheap labour, or to prevent Australian adventurers from land-grabbing
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in New Guinea? If it be said that the moral weight of a great union of expanded Englishmen would procure a cessation of the harsh or aggressive policy that leads to these costly little wars, one can only reply that this will be a very odd result of giving a decisive voice in imperial affairs to those portions of our people who, from their position and their interests, have been least open to philanthropic susceptibilities. It is perfectly plain that the chief source of the embarrassments of the mother country in dealing with colonies endowed with responsible government would simply be reproduced if a Federal Council were sitting in Downing Street in the place of the Secretary of State. The objections arising from the absence of common interest and common knowledge may be illustrated in the case of the disputed rights of fishery off Newfoundland. It has been suggested by Lord Grey that in such a matter it would be of great advantage to have in the standing committee of colonial privy councillors which he proposes a body which would both give it information as to the wishes and opinions of the colonies, and assist in conveying to the colonies authentic explanation of the reasons for the measures adopted. That the agents from Newfoundland could give the Government information is certain, but what light could the agents from New Zealand throw on the fishery question? Then apply the case to the proposal of a Federation. As the question raises discussions with the United States and with France, it is an imperial matter, and would be referred to the Federal Council. That body, in spite of its miscellaneous composition, would be no better informed of the merits of the case than the present cabinet, nor do we know why it should be more likely to come to a wise decision. However that might be, we cannot easily believe that the merchant of Cape Town or the sugar-planter in Queensland, or the coffee-grower in Fiji, would willingly pay twopence or fourpence of income tax for a war with France, however authentic might be the explanations given to him of the reasons why the fishermen of Nova Scotia had destroyed the huts and the drying stages of French rivals on a disputed foreshore. We fail to see why the fact of the authentic explanation being conveyed by his own particular delegate should be much more soothing to him than if they were conveyed by the Secretary of State, for, after all, as Mr. Seeley will assure him, Lord Derby and Sir Michael Hicks-Beach are brothers and fellow-countrymen. No, we may depend upon it that it would be a mandat impératif on every federal delegate not to vote a penny for any war, or preparation for war, that might arise from the direct or indirect interests of any colony but his own. I have said little of the difficulties arising from the vast geographic distances that separate these great outlying communities from one another, and from the mother country. But those difficulties exist, and they are in one sense at the root of others more important than themselves. 'Countries separated by half the globe,' says Mill in his excellent chapter on the government of dependencies by a free state, 'do not present the natural conditions for being members of one federation. If they had sufficiently the same interests, they have not, and never can have, a sufficient habit of taking counsel together. They are not part of the same public; they do not discuss and deliberate in the same arena, but apart, and have only a most imperfect knowledge of what passes in the minds of one another. They neither know each other's objects nor have confidence in each other's principles of conduct. Let any Englishman ask himself how he should like his destinies to depend on an assembly of which one-third was British-American and another third South African and Australian. Yet to this it must come, if there were anything like fair or equal representation; and would not every one feel that the representatives of Canada and Australia, even in matters of an imperial character, could not know or feel any sufficient concern for the interests, opinions, or wishes of English, Irish, or Scotch? ' [6] Tariffs, as we have seen, are one question, and the treatment of native races is another, where this want of sympathy and agreement between Englishmen at home and Englishmen in the most important colonies is open and flagrant. [6] J. S. Mill On Representative Government , pp. 317, 318. The actual circumstances of federal unions justify Mill's remark on the impossibility of meeting the conditions of such polities where the communities are separated by half the globe; nor does the fact that New Zealand is now only forty days from the Thames make any difference. The districts of the Aetolian, and the towns of the Achæan, League were in effect neighbours. The Germanic Confederation was composed of kingdoms and principalities that are conterminous. The American Union is geographically solid. So are the cantons of the Swiss Confederation. The nine millions of square miles over which the British flag waves are dispersed over the whole surface of the globe. The fact that this consideration is so trite and obvious does not prevent it from being an essential element in the argument. Mr. Seeley's precedents are not at all in point. It is no answer to say, with Mr. Forster, that 'English-speaking men and women look at life and its problems, especially the problems of government, with much the same eyes everywhere.' For the purposes of academic discussion, and with reference to certain moral generalities, this might be fairly true. But the problems of government bring us into a sphere where people are called upon to make sacrifices, in the shape of taxation if in no other, and here English-speaking men and women are wont not by any means to look at life and its problems, from George Grenville's Stamp Act down to the 333 articles in the tariff of Victoria, with the same eyes. The problems of government arise from clashing interests, and in that clash the one touch of nature that makes the whole world kin is the resolution not willingly to make sacrifices without objects which are thought to be worth them. If we can both persuade ourselves and convince the colonists that the gains of a closer confederation will compensate for the sacrifices entailed by it, we shall then look at the problem with the same eyes: if not, not. Englishmen at home withdrew the troops from New Zealand because we did not choose to pay for them. Englishmen in Canada and Victoria do their best to injure our manufactures because they wish to nurse their own. The substance of character, the leading instincts, the love of freedom, the turn for integrity, the taste for fair play, all the great traits and larger principles may remain the same, but there is abundant room in the application of the same principles and the satisfaction of the same instincts for the rise of bitter contention and passionate differences. The bloodiest struggle of our generation was between
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